From warming home comforts to fancy fine dining, cheese is a staple ingredient in many kitchens across the US. In honor of National Cheese Day on June 4th, we’re celebrating our love for the good stuff with a round-up of some of the best cheesy meals across the country.
The traditionally Canadian dish of fries topped with cheese curds and gravy has finally made its way to the US, but there are only a handful of restaurants and diners getting it right. For authentic poutine, our first pick is Mile End Deli, with locations in Brooklyn, Nashville and Birmingham. Combining a Jewish delicatessen with Montreal style cuisine, this restaurant offers either the classic poutine or a smoked meat version. Those on the East Coast can also get their poutine fix at Duckfat, Portland ME, where the fries are cooked in – you guessed it – duck fat and served with locally sourced cheese curds.
This dish originated in Switzerland, but is also popular in France, and consists of heating a wheel of cheese before scraping the melted top onto your choice of meat, potatoes or vegetables. Think fondue but without the hassle of melting the cheese into a liquid form!
It’s a great sharing meal for dinner parties or social gatherings, and with a raclette grill you can easily recreate it at home. You’ll also find some restaurants jumping on the new trend; take advantage of the prix-fixe lunches at Raclette NYC or enjoy the Swiss décor and American addition of bacon to the dish at Chalet Edelweiss, LA.
This grown-up grilled cheese originated in France and consists of a ham and cheese sandwich fried in bechamel sauce, sometimes topped with an egg. At La Maison Du Croque Monsieur, NYC, you can try everything from a classic croque with a cheese of your choice, to veggie versions and a dessert croque with bananas, Nutella and mascarpone.
On the West Coast, Currant American Brasserie in San Diego is serving up a variety of Parisian-inspired food, including a traditional croque or a ham and gruyere breakfast croissant.
One of America’s best contributions to the cheese game is the Philly Cheesesteak, and can be made at home with some beefsteak, provolone cheese and fried onions. For the real deal, however, where better to go for this sandwich than to Philadelphia itself. Pat’s King of Steaks is the original home of the cheesesteak, and has been selling them since 1930, giving them plenty of time to perfect the recipe. Other award-winning joints in the area include John’s Roast Pork and Tony Luke’s.
Mac n Cheese
Who doesn’t love macaroni cheese? Whilst we’re probably all used to making the classic version at home, there are some restaurants across the US elevating this simple meal to new levels. If you’re a mac n cheese enthusiast, you have to try Beecher’s in Seattle’s Pike Place Market, as this is consistently dubbed not just one of the best in the country, but in the world. Here, they mix their flagship cheese with garlic and chipotle to add a gentle kick to their creamy cheese sauce.
Yankee Lobster Company, a favorite in Boston, and Primal Cut in NYC are just two restaurants making magic with their combination of macaroni cheese and lobster. Primal Cut also include truffle oil in their delectable five-cheese mix. Mac n cheese can even be an option for vegans now, with by Chloe in New York, LA, Boston and Providence concocting a vegan-friendly mac n cheese that tastes surprisingly like the real deal!
America is home to some fantastic Tex-Mex food, and it’s not hard to get your hands on some loaded cheesy nachos. Nacho Daddy in Las Vegas is mixing the game up with alternative takes on the usual jalapeno and beef toppings, such as Thai chicken and sweet chili, lobster and crab or popcorn chicken and buffalo sauce. Velvet Cantina in San Francisco offers unique flavors such as chorizo and chili con queso topped nachos, or dessert S’mores nachos if you’re feeling adventurous. Finally, for extra cheesy nachos, get the famous pile high nachos at Chacho’s San Antonio, which are topped with cheese and served with another side helping of queso sauce.
We’ll end this list on a sweet note; as well as the iconic New York cheesecake, served at famous locations such as Junior’s and Eileen’s, great cheesecake can be found across the States. In Chicago, Eli’s signature slow-baked cheesecake has been a bestseller for over thirty years.
Vegans can now join in with PETA-approved vegan cheesecakes at Capital City Bakery in Austin, TX. Finally, if you don’t have a sweet tooth, you can try a savory cheesecake at Jacques-Imo’s in New Orleans, where the Creole menu includes a unique shrimp and alligator sausage cheesecake.